Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Good Shepherd

Directed by Robert De Niro.
2006. Rated R, 167 minutes.
Matt Damon
Angelina Jolie
Alec Baldwin
Tammy Blanchard
Billy Crudup
Robert De Niro
Michael Gambon
William Hurt
Timothy Hutton

The Good Shepherd is a dramatization of the events that led to the creation of the CIA. It also dramatizes the agency’s earliest days, specifically it’s involvement in the Bay of Pigs. We see things through the eyes of Edward Wilson (Damon). He’s a fictional character, but like almost everyone else in the movie, he’s based on a real-life person.

The film plays like Edward’s rise through the ranks to become the CIA director and the problems his unwavering dedication to country has caused in his marriage. However, from within the twists and turns of a spy movie emerges a film much more about father-son relationships. The absence of Wilson’s dad, who committed suicide when Edward was just a young boy, hangs over the movie. Then there are the various men who assume mentorship of Edward and the problems of trust bound to arise from associating only with people engaged in espionage. Finally, there’s Edward’s relationship with his own son that we don’t realize is important until the final act.

For enthusiasts of the genre, there are plenty of spy games played. These have the added advantage of being based on true events without stylizing them. Still, it’s not an easy movie to watch. It’s a largely monotone affair in which dialogue is almost always spoken calmly and often whispered. Matt Damon’s performance perfectly embodies all the movie wants to be. Some will be turned off by his emotionless portrayal but that’s precisely what his character is supposed to be. He handles the role well.

It is also a dialogue heavy movie that asks you to pay close attention. What happens between sentences and offscreen drive the movie. Offscreen is where most of what would be action scenes in another movie takes place. Because of this, many would consider it boring, and may have trouble following. It can indeed be difficult to delineate what exactly the point of all this is since it purposely builds slowly towards it. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, steer clear. If you want intrigue and don’t mind it in hushed tones, have at it.

MY SCORE: 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment